Timeout! The changing landscape of college sports and the NBA playoffs begin
This is it!! This will be my final time addressing you guys here in our paper and I’m not short of topics to discuss. The most important on my list is the beginning of the NBA playoffs this weekend. If you have read here at all, you know that professional basketball is my favorite of all the organized sports. I’ll even brag about having a jump shot myself, if given the opportunity. But I’m not going to talk about my basketball game. I’m leading this column with the cloud of impending change blowing through college sports, this includes the Northwestern football players seeking unionization and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s mention of a way to possibly compensate college basketball players.
The Chicago district of the National Labor Relations Board ruled in March that Northwestern football players are employees of the school and can unionize. The drive to unionize is being spearheaded by former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter. The argument for unionization is that the obligations that players have on the field equate the players to employees of the school, not just students.
The school and the NCAA obviously disagree with the ruling. A few arguments against it are that if players unionize then they could strike while citing unfair working conditions and that players unionizing means that paying players is the next step and that would cause the college athletics institution to collapse.
I don’t know if I’m cool with players unionizing, but I definitely don’t agree with the NCAA about the collapse of college athletics. It would just take some better planning to take care of players who sacrifice their bodies for and (in some cases) help bring in millions of dollars to the school. What If graduating seniors received a piece of the NCAA money they help generate? It would give players an incentive to stay in school for all four years and actually try in the classroom.
The NBA commissioner recently brought up an idea for the NBA to cover the cost of attendance gap for students. The idea behind the NBA commissioner’s thinking is to encourage those in financial need to consider staying in school. The thinking of any potential professional athlete is to get it while you can, but there are those who aren’t ready for the jump and another year or two in college would definitely be beneficial. It will be interesting to see where the NBA goes with this in the future.
Speaking of the future, the one that UMass sophomore guard Derrick Gordon will be a trail-blazing pioneer for gay athletes. He is the first openly gay player to come out in Division I sports while still active in the NCAA. He was proceeded by football player Michael Sam, who came out after his college career as a defensive lineman at Missouri was over. Sam is currently waiting for the NFL Draft to begin his professional career, but Gordon will be back on the court for UMass this upcoming season so he will have to face some potentially nasty situations with college crowds.
The announcement from Gordon wasn’t as ballyhooed as the one from Sam a few months earlier, not to mention the NBA’s Jason Collins announcement last year, so maybe the level of acceptance won’t be too bad for him. I have a feeling that we haven’t heard the last of his story though. I’m still waiting for it to be about what you do on the field/court. I don’t care about the other personal stuff, that stuff is just that – personal.
Now, to the fun stuff. The NBA playoffs begin this weekend and so too do my binge-watching sessions. The matchups aren’t quite set as of this column, but I predicted before the season started that the Miami Heat and the L.A. Clippers would meet in the NBA Finals and I’m not backing off now. The Indiana Pacers, Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs will be challengers to the NBA throne, but I have no doubt that my Heatles will prevail.
It has been a pleasure to write about sports for The Forum. If you want to tweet with me about the NBA or about sports in general, hit me up on Twitter @player1leo. Let’s go Heat!